Writing / Publishing

Reflections on Editing

Remember how I’ve said I tend to procrastinate a bit while editing? Well, thanks to that, here comes a new blog post!

I’m wrapping up round 2 of editing and will start on round 3 today – that’s the first round where I make changes to the draft on my computer. It’s a big step, and once I hit that phase, it isn’t long before I’m ready to publish.

However, I’m also going to be writing 3-4 new chapters for this book. I have a tendency to do a hard stop at the end of the climax and end the book. Then, after editing and getting some feedback from editors/critique partners, I add in the final resolution of the story. It’s almost like I need time to process what the ending should be after going through the emotional ups and downs of writing a climax in a book.

This book was a bit of a roller coaster to write. I think second books in a series are harder than the first in a series. I definitely went through all the emotions while writing this book. The climax was a blast to write. Probably one of my favorite things I’ve written so far. Which could be another factor as to why I stopped right when it ended and said “done.” Even though I knew I’d come back to it and write a few chapters after the fact.

The new chapters are a reward for me, though, something to look forward to doing after I finish round 3 of edits.

Now, if you’ve followed me on social media or read my other posts, you know how I feel about editing. I’m working on changing my mindset around this part of the process, so it feels less like work. I wonder if part of my stress around editing is the fact that it is similar to what I do for my day job as a teacher. How often am I giving notes on papers that students write? For me, writing is my creative outlet. Editing starts to feel similar to what I do for “work” whereas, writing doesn’t. It’s the fun part.

With that in mind, I’m working to shift my thinking around editing so I can start to view it as an integral part of the process and consider the benefit I get from editing.

When I edit, I get a larger view of the overall story. That’s a huge benefit since I don’t allow myself to edit as I write. I also get to see the places I can improve my work as a writer, and I get to see the progress I’ve made from one work to the next. Honestly, editing is a wonderful thing because it’s where the story starts to come together on its own. It’s how I take an idea and turn it into a living thing, giving it an identity. Without editing, it’s not fully formed. In the end, as much as I fight it, editing is pretty magical.

They say that when you do things you enjoy, you complete them faster. When I write, I typically get through 2,000 words in an hour. I love writing. It gives me energy and recharges me. When I edit, I move much slower. It seems to take forever. I’m working on getting to the point where I can appreciate and start to enjoy editing so I’m not spending a month on every project when I reach that stage. We’ll see how it goes on the next book since I’m going to work on my mindset from the very beginning of the process.

Okay, procrastination done. On to round 3 edits – the ones that start making the changes!

Behind the Scenes, Fae Cursed

Fae-Cursed-GenericFae Cursed, Book One of the Legacy of Magic Series is available now on Amazon. It’s a fun mash up between Urban Fantasy and Fairy Tale retelling. This book came about in a very different way than my past books. I’m usually an outliner. I have to at least have 8-10 plot points that I want to hit as I make my way through a book. Fae Cursed was totally different.

For this book, my friend L.A. Johnson, and I deceded we’d do a “secret project”. Our rules were simple: write something for fun, something we weren’t going to worry about fitting into the popular genres, something crazy. We didn’t tell anyone what we were working on. Nobody saw the first few chapters of our work, not even each other. After a week or two of writing, we started to share some of our craziness, but not as much as we usually would. No critique group, no spouses, no friends, just a writer and a computer.

It was freeing, really. I had this crazy idea for a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a circus. When I started to resarch the history of circuses, I found that they didn’t exist in medieval times, which was my typical go-to for world building. So I had to move it forward in time. I don’t know enough about Victorian times to build a world in there, so I pushed it even more modern. My setting was inspried by that transition time from the 90’s to the 2000’s. So my circus became a rave with circus performers.

For a while, I had no idea where I was going with this crazy story. In fact, a lot of the early versions of what I wrote got cut and re-arranged, but in the end, it turned out to be a fun way for me to explore my voice.

If it hadn’t been for this project, I would not have discovered how much fun it is to write in a contemporay setting. With magic, of course. Becuase let’s face it, I don’t think I could write a book without magic. It’s just too much fun.

What’s next? Sayge Blessed, Book Two of the series, will be out in November. It’s likely that book will wrap up the current story but I’m a sucker for cliff-hangers. As a reader I love them. As a writer, they are so much fun to write. I’m going to do my best to tie it up in a neat little bow for you, but no promises.

What I’m Reading

fugitive of magicOne of the most important things about being a writer is making time to read. Most of the writers I know love to read. It’s probably why many of us started writing in the first place. So in the interest of keeping up with reading ficiton and doing more regular blog posts, I’m going to try to post about a new book I’m reading every week. I typically read a book a week when I’m in the writing stage of a work. When I’m editing, I’m often reading my own work and don’t get to read other people’s work as often. But I’m going to aim for a post every week.

First up, Fugitive of Magic by Linsey Hall. This book is a quick, action-filled urban fantasy book mixed with mystery. It’s part of a larger world, but it’s the first I’ve read.

Book Description from Amazon:

To the world, I’m a just a Conjurer. To my closest friends, I’m a FireSoul–a dangerous Magica with forbidden powers and a dragon’s soul. The downside? If anyone discovers what I am, I’m dead. So I lay low, kicking butt with my weapons, not my magic.

Things get ugly when I witness the murder of a powerful vampire ally and become the key suspect. Soon, I’m hunted by the sexiest, strongest supernatural I’ve ever met. Ares is an unheard of vampire hybrid, and it’s hard to say if he wants to kiss me or kill me.

I’ve got three days to catch the real killer. The bad news? It will take my forbidden magic to succeed. But can I control it, much less keep my secret with Ares watching my every move? Especially when the stakes get ever higher?

I’m used to protecting others…now I have to protect myself.

What I liked about this book:

The pacing was awesome. I’m not a fan of books that take a long time to get from point A to point B. This one gave us the magic right off the bat, then threw us into the mysetery that the main character has to solve or she could end up dead. The stakes are clear and they are as high as they get: life or death (probably). Throw in a handsome half-vampire to help her solve the mystery and things get even better. The heroine is strong, snarky, and has some pretty kick-ass magical abilities. I LOVE the world building and magic system she created. It was a lot of fun.

Other thoughts:

The book moves pretty fast and while it has a mystery, I never really felt like the character was in danger. She solves things quickly and moves on to the next clue right away. This isn’t a deal-breaker, though. It’s a candy read. The kind of book that you know is going to satisfy your reading sweet-tooth, keeping you entertained without having to participate in much deep thinking. That is exactly what I look for in a book during the school year when I choose a fiction read. I save my deep thinking for non-fiction books.

Will I continue in the Series?

I will likely go back to the beginning of this world. I want to learn more about the magic systems and the world she built. This didn’t pull me in to the point where I felt like I had to read the next one, but honestly, that is rare for me anymore. Part of that is that I have the biggest TBR list ever and I want to read them all. So I tend to stick to first in the series for now and save my sequel reading for summer break when I (in theory) have more time.

Fugitive of Magic on Amazon

 

Creating a New Story: Part 1

Cinderella Cover3I have a million story ideas in my head and I want to write them all. The problem is, there are only so many hours in a day and I have to do things like sleep occasionally. Instead of waiting to start a brand new story until I finish editing my other finished works, I decided I’d reward myself with time to write new words on the side. I created a brand new story on Wattpad that I will be adding to exclusively there. Unlike Rose Circus, this story hasn’t been written yet. You will be seeing a true first draft in all it’s imperfect glory. Curious what my process is like? This is your chance to follow along as I create something new. I’ll post a new scene or chapter 2-3 times per week and will work on creating a regular posting schedule as the story evolves. This is a fun story that I wanted to play around with and I’m excited to get it out there. It gives me a break from my other work (including editing).

I have found that there are people who are interested in the process an author takes when creating a work. While every author is different, I thought it would be fun to share with you how I do things. I will post updates on that as I work on this story.

Process Update 1: All of my works usually start with a simple idea or a what-if. I LOVE fairy tales and I love when they are adapted in new, fun ways. I have also read my share of Vampire books and come from the school of thought that Vampires are supposed to be scary. But this story was actually triggered by the picture of the girl in the mask. When I saw that picture, I thought it would make a great cover for a Cinderella story. So I added it to my stock photo list and figured I’d go back to it when I had a better idea for it. A few days later, the image was still nagging at me and I went back to look at it. I started to think about how Cinderella could be modernized. Why would she put up with the mental and emotional abuse of an evil stepmother? Then, the wheels started turning and the idea came together. So I made a quick cover and wrote a description for Wattpad.

Story Description: After a tragic accident costs Ella’s father his life, she spends the next ten years living under the rules of her terrible stepmother. Forced to do the housework and living in the damp basement of her family’s home, Ella can’t wait for the day she turns 18 so she can leave it all behind. Everything changes when she discovers her father’s secret study and her family’s past. That’s when she realizes, her father’s death wasn’t an accident, he was killed by the very thing he hunted: Vampires. Now, Ella wants revenge against her father’s killer. Drawn into a world of magic, wealth, and superstition, Ella learns that the world wasn’t what she thought it was. The deeper she gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Can Ella learn how to fight against the creatures her father gave his life to hunt? Or will she become the hunted?

Usually, I outline stories before I write them. This time, I am starting with just the description. I’ll keep you posted as to where I go next!

Click here to find me on Wattpad and follow along!

My Editing Process

It’s editing time again!

Editing is my least favorite part of writing, which makes sense. I’m guessing most writers write to create new worlds and live in new stories. When you stop to edit, you aren’t creating anything new. I even took a break from Illaria, thinking I’d finish one more new book in a different series before I started editing. However, the completed Illaria book is calling to me.

This book was finished in November. That’s right. It’s been sitting there, waiting since November. When I started writing a short story from Max’s point of view, I ended up down a rabbit hole that became Oracle of Illaria. Now, I’m in the position where I need to make sure the second book I wrote – which is now book 3 in the series – fits with the world. Thankfully, this book started 2 months after Heir of Illaria ended so there was room in between.

So where does that leave me now? Starting the editing process for Book 3.

Everyone has a different process and I’ve found it interesting to see how other authors go about this stage. So I figured I’d share what I do. Here’s how it goes down:

  1. Create a Kindle File of the book and read the entire thing for content. At this stage, I try to read the book the way a reader would. Looking for any plot holes, places I skipped things, or need to add more info. Really, anything that would leave a reader confused if I didn’t put it in there. Notes in this section are minimal. Unless it’s a major problem, I don’t allow myself to make notes during this stage.
  2. Print the whole thing. Yikes. It’s a big document. I print it out and get it bound at Kinkos in a nice little sprial thing. It looks official and makes me feel like it is complete. Kind of a nice part of my process.
  3. Red pen time. I read it again, on paper this time, and make notes on everything major. I make notes on plot issues, places to add detail or remove unnescessary things, and any grammer / usage / sentence structrue things that are too big to ignore. However, I try not to do much with the grammar, etc. stuff at this stage. This is just notes to myself. I don’t actually fix things here.
  4. Back to the computer. Time to add in my notes from the paper into the actual draft. This is where I actually type in the changes. While I’m doing this, I might even catch more things to fix.
  5. Read through on the computer to check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, typos, etc.
  6. Send to editor for comprehensive edits – check for story flow and overall feel of the work.
  7. Make changes based on editor recommendations.
  8. Send back to editor for line edits – checking grammar, spelling, word choice, sentence structure, etc.
  9. Make changes based on editor recommendations.
  10. Create updated kindle file – read through for any typos.
  11. Update file based on my proof-reading.
  12. Send copies to proof-readers.
  13. Make corrections based on proof-reader comments.
  14. Format for Kindle again. Send to ARC team.

Note: I didn’t create a step for my procrastination blog post….looking back, I’ve noticed that I write a lot more blog posts while editing. So, I suppose that’s part of my process, too!

On Editing Oracle of Illaria

For some reason, writing the second book in the Illaria series has been harder than anything else I’ve written. Keep in mind book three is already written and stands at 100k words (it may be getting some cuts). That might be why it was so tough. I had to fit this story in-between two already existing works. I’m also feeling a bit of pressure because I want this book to be just as exciting and fun to read as my first book in the series. Second books are tough to write!

But, I prevailed!

The first two drafts are finished and now it’s time to move on to draft 3. In this part of the process, I use the feedback and notes provided by my editor. Her notes are tough for this book. At least they feel that way. It could be that this book scares me a bit because it’s been such a challenge to write. But whatever the cause, it’s time to get over that and move on.

After a week away from writing, I opened her notes so I can begin the next round of editing. Draft 3 will officially be underway this evening! Then, it will head to the editor again for a second round and I’ll do it all over again. Editing is my least favorite part of writing a book. To help motivate me and get me through it, I set up a pre-order for it before edits were finished. By doing this, I created a hard deadline. My first book took 4 months to edit and much of that was procrastination. I know I can do it faster. So cheers to the process. The sooner I finish, the sooner I can get back to doing the fun part – writing a new story!

On Writing Heir of Illaria: Part 1

When you tell people you wrote a book, one of the surprisingly common responses is “I’ve always wanted to write a book!”,  followed with a variety of excuses as to why they can’t write a book. Ignoring the excuses that come across as condescending, there are often some pleas for help buried in their excuses. Writing a book is on a lot of people’s bucket list, but it isn’t easy. Now that I have finally published my first novel, I can tell you, it was was worth the pain and tears it took to make it into a finished product.

The story of how this book came to be is littered with a series of incomplete manuscripts that will probably never find their way off of my hard drive. And that’s okay. In fact, the version of this book that saw the light of day is miles away from the first outline I wrote in 2011. All books have  a different path from idea to completion. There is not one way to go about it. Some writers can take an idea to completion in weeks. Yes. Weeks. Others take years. Some take a lifetime. Often, it’s hard to tell the difference between the books that were written quickly and those that took years once they’ve been through proper editing.

So how did Heir of Illaria go from idea to finished novel? For me, it began as a dream. (Yes, I know. Just like Stephanie Meyer. But that’s how it happened.) I had a dream about siblings who were kidnapped and had to escape. They were fleeing an evil king because they were the rightful heirs to the throne – though they didn’t know they were. If you’ve read my book, you can see the foundation for the story that would come later. The original outline was typed up five years before the book was finished and it evolved a lot between drafts and had a lot of starts and stops. It isn’t the same story that I ended up writing, but it was my starting place.

I tried writing it for a while, but at that time, I didn’t yet know anything about how to write a book. I dabbled. And that’s okay. It works for some people. It didn’t work for me. Eventually, I put it down for a couple of years…and had a baby…and didn’t write for a while. Life happens.

After I figured out how to juggle working while being a mom (which took about two years) I started to write again. I attempted, and failed to complete my first NaNoWriMo. I needed help. So I joined RMFW and started to learn about writing as a craft.

I was working on two novels when I joined my first critique group. Illaria, and a dystopia that will never see the light of day. After my first chapter for Illaria was ripped apart at critique, I focused on my dystopia for a few months. (Critique group disclaimer: Yes, you need one. Yes, they will criticize your work. That’s how you get better. Yes, it can be painful, but you get over it.)

Anyway, dystopia…I did not have an outline, and eventually wrote myself into a plot hole I couldn’t write my way out of. While talking through the plot with my writing friends, we ended up talking through Illaria, too. I found that that story  was much more developed and I created an updated outline that changed a lot of what I already had written. The new outline made me excited to write. The dystopia went into a drawer, where it will probably stay – and I went back to Illaria, which at the time was titled The Kingdom. Good, right?

Which meant, I started over. Like throw out the first 15,000 words, over. In the grand scheme of a novel, that’s not the worst that could happen – it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. Because I jumped in with both feet and I went for it. I wrote every single day. And finished that draft in 6 weeks. SIX weeks. To finish something I’d started 5 years earlier. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

So what changed from when I was struggling to write to when I finally finished my novel? The big thing was support. I joined a writing organization, joined a critique group, and started to learn from other writers. I started to learn about writing and learned about HOW to write. In my next post, I’ll share some of the stratgies that I learned that allowed me to write a strong outine and increase my word count. Also, mindset. But that’s a big one that I’m not ready to tackle yet.